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Mazda gave the motoring press a sneak peek at the all-new BT-50 ‘Active Lifestyle Vehicle’ this week, in what is to be a global unveiling at the Australian International Motor Show.

It’s worth noting, that this is the only new generation BT-50 example currently in existence, and the reason why we were give strict instructions not to touch, and were required to hand in all mobile phones and cameras on entry to the venue.

It’s not very often that Australia has the privilege of hosting a global unveiling of a brand new car model, but then, this is a critically important market for the Mazda.

The world’s largest island also represents the largest market share in the world for Mazda, larger than the US and Europe, in fact.

Mazda Australia is on target to sell around 85,000 vehicles this year, which would mean a market share of approximately 8.3 percent on current forecast.

To put that into perspective, Mazda in the US holds around a 3 percent share, while in the UK that rises to 5-6 percent of the market and in Japan, they have a 4-5 percent share.

In September 2010, Mazda Australia held the top sales spot across three separate automotive categories, with Mazda 2, Mazda 3, and Mazda 6, respectively.

Despite their overall sales success in this country, the Managing Director of Mazda, Doug Dickson, is the first to admit that they have not performed well enough in the utility segment, but all that is about to change.

You know it’s a big deal when the PR boss introduces the Chief Designer of the BT-50, Ryo Yanagisawa, who told the audience of his passion for snow boarding and motocross, as well as his general ‘need for speed’ approach to life.

Interestingly, Ryo’s design was also influenced by Australia’s wide-open spaces after he spent time traveling to places such as the Great Ocean Road and the Northern Territory.

On first glance, it’s obvious the new generation BT-50 has been given a serious shot of Mazda’s ‘Zoom-Zoom’, as this design unequivocally raises the bar in the design department in this segment.

Production won’t commence until June 2011 in Thailand, and Mazda aren’t giving anything away as far as to when the first batch of BT-50s might hit our shores.

Other details are also scant at this time, but we do know that the BT-50 will get new drivetrains, and that the vehicle will be well specced, straight out of the box.

It’s likely that Mazda may offer their new SKY-G and SKY-D generation powertains, which will mean provide considerable power increases while reducing CO2 emissions.

Also likely to find it’s way into the BT-50, is Mazda’s next generation six-speed automatic transmission. It’s lighter and is said to provide significantly quicker shifts than current automatic boxes and you can bet on more ‘Zoom-Zoom’.

The design incorporates Mazda’s current five-point grille family face (it looks similar to Mazda 3), which certainly provides a more than contemporary front profile.

The rear end design also features some car-like design cues, especially in the rear tail light assembly, which looks to have been influenced by the Mazda 6.

It looks big, almost big enough to be called a truck in the US, I suspect. It’s clearly longer and wider than the current model, which probably means that its payload will have increased over the model it will replace.

This particular show vehicle, which was described Mr Dickson as a composite, was shod with 265/17-inch rubber while suspension was courtesy of leaf springs down the back and coil spring over dampers up front.

If the exterior design is a standout, and I believe it is, then the interior is nothing less than car-like – that’s Mazda, car-like.

The cockpit is driver focused and Mazda 6 style in execution and certainly a class above what buyers would expect of a vehicle in this segment.

Given that Mazda describe the BT-50 as “a brand new direction in the utility market” and a vehicle that can be used for both work and family transport, expect to find features such as SatNav and USB/iPod ports in production models.

Going forward, Mazda is focused on achieving a 30 percent improvement in fuel economy (over 2008 models) for all Mazda cars by 2015, as well as a reducing overall weight by over 100 kilograms for its petrol engine vehicles.

  • Ricky

    It looks nice, but of course the model we see here is the top of the line. Which will be overpriced, no doubt. I can see a bit of HiLux in this design (the slab side doors, for instance). Interior is good. Rear tray is WAY too small, as usual for Thai utes. Why can’t a 4 door ute come out in this country with a FULL length rear tray? Are Australians really that afraid of a vehicle that’s 5.4m long? Get over it.

    • marbels are red

      still a negative pr#$k why dont you f$%k off overseas to your 5.4m utes

      • bob

        sounds like you need to grow a pair of marbles.

  • Guts

    Looks awkward. I’m disappointed.
    Give me a vw amorok over this any day

    • Paul

      Ranger: tough
      BT50 sketches: brilliant
      BT50 photos: a bit too girly for me

  • Hung Low

    OMG! Those tail lights need to go!

    • Jabba the Hutt

      Yep. The front isn’t too bad but not as good as the teaser sketch but wow, how stoned were they when they did that rear light set up?

  • http://www.facebook.com/leong.jon Jon Leong

    The new ranger is nicer to look at.

  • SVEN

    My EYES, MY EYES…Take it away…You get the same look when you have a dog on the back of your UTE…face in the wind…

  • birdie

    just seen the new ford ranger on the Australian fordforums site ,leaves this for dead

    • Steve

      I think it may even put the Amarok to shame. It’ll look even better with an alloy bull bar. Looks great.

      • birdie

        yeah, i think ford Australia did a fantastic job

        • Davo

          mate what were they thinking it’s ugly so much like a sangyong acton!

  • Don

    Still undecided on the exterior, but loving the interior just like a proper mazda car. Exciting that the SKY engines might make it into the BT-50.

  • ohreally

    those tail lights?

    subaru wrx circa 2001 called,
    they want their tail lights back..

    other than that. interior looks neat, functional and not too dainty for the dirty work.

  • Ricky

    I just read the specs of the new Ford Ranger. It still has rear drum brakes, and a 2.5L petrol engine with 122 kW (taken right from the Mazda6 it sounds like). Hardly groundbreaking stuff. The 2.5L engine is not direct injection (the new “Sky” technology), and way underpowered for a big ute like this. Thanks but no thanks – give me an F-150 over the new T6 anyday.

    • falexar

      but what about the 3.2 oiler 190kw and 470 N-m toeque????

      got to be great for towing

      • jeremy

        Mate, as if the 2.5 litre petrol will make it into the large 4x4s, it will only be used in some of the 4×2 utes.

  • Julia Gillard

    What a g a y looking ute lol

    • marbels are red

      dont be mean to gay people Ricky is gay he flies the rainbow flag everywhere he goes.

  • KinFungL

    Hummm…… The looks of this ute remind me Ssangyong…

    • whatcarRAH

      bit of great wall look in there aswell

  • Duckula

    ummmm I like the interior – but the exterior looks like the slightly, and only slightly more attractive cousin of a ssanyong ute…

  • Bob.

    The exterior is horrible. It also looks narrow and taller than the Ranger. Are they similar in dimensions?

    The interior looks fantastic for a ute, lets hope material don’t let it down.

    This reminds me of the Hilux/Triton in being tall and narrow proportioned while the Ranger is more Navara/Amarok proportioned. I prefer the Ranger.

    If I were Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota, I would be very worried with the arrival of the BT50, Ranger adn Amarok. Hopefully they have replacements in the next 2-3 years.

  • cerebralfortitude

    Mazda, you’ve made my children cry! You should have a warning on these images.

  • CK

    I would have bought the sketch – looked exciting – but the translation to metal looks awkward…. and don’t get me started on those tail lights.

    Interior gets full marks though.

    Amarok it is.


    omg…so its a gone wrong love child of a mazda 3 and the new t6.what were they thinking?…

  • Jimmy

    If they sell just one of these cars I’ll eat my hat.

  • http://baji192.wordpress.com Baji

    Not feeling it Mazda!!! Quite disappointed.

    1) Interior is great! Very car like and looks well put together.

    2) The rear end needs to be redesigned. Those taillights look hideous. Looks like it was designed for china, like the mazda 2 sedan. Normal lights please. Don’t try to be different for the sake of it. It looks cheap and tacky.

    3) Headlamps look too big. and that huge ass reflector needs to be redesigned i think.

    4) Make the top grille smaller, and the bottom grille bigger

    5) Why did the bonnet get scalloped inwards? That design just doesn’t work! Look at the i45! The bonnet should have a bulge like the Ranger!

    6) The design of the wheels doesn’t look very manly or tough. What happened to the wheels of the sketch?

    Apart from those things, i think overall its a very clean design with no tacked on body cladding. Seems the new BT50 might be one of those cars that may look better in person than in photos.

  • Tomas79

    Just like the Amarok, and the new ranger, looks like the Hilux, but with a very stupid face…

    • gearboxdawg

      smiley face rather.

    • Tomas79

      YEah, not everything looks like a hilux, but this mazda, ranger, and the amarok do!! After all they are just playing catchup 6.5 years, if not more, late!!

      Ford inventing a ute is something a fanboy would say…
      What exactly is there to invent on a scaled down truck?

      Hell, even horse drawn carriage used the same concept!

      And now, I’m not a toyota Fanboy, just reminding all the Toyota knockers of the obvious!!

  • http://baji192.wordpress.com Baji

    is it just me or does the BT50 seem to ride a lot higher than the Ranger? Theres just somethign not right. Either the wheel arches are too big, or the wheels are too small. or its too high or the body isn’t as big as the ranger.

  • Like it

    I like it and feel it will definately grow on people but I am a Mazda fan with a run of them. Comments reminds me of the 2001 Suzuki RM’s when they went all angular in style. Took a bit to get used to but when you did the old shapes looked so dated. Almost like a Colorado lol. Wheels let it down some. Taller with a modest dish and maybe less spokes? Love the interior! Bravo

  • http://www.facebook.com/glen.wallis Glen Wallis

    oh dear…disappointing :(

    Interior = win
    Exterior = fail

    Was hoping to see it take on the Triton.

  • LukasUtopia

    Good consistent design throughout, brings more aesthetic design empathise to the market the way the Triton did a few years ago. Hilux still looks good many years on though. Now the Amarok is almost here tradesman have never had this much choice.

  • Andrew M

    I think this is going to take some growing on me just like the Triton did

  • MK

    Nice of Mazda…. concerned about possible damages to cameras.

  • Shak

    I really want to like it, but why the need for the barina Spark headlights. The Concept sketches look more cohesive in their front end design.

  • MazMagic

    Although VW are over-rated (mainly by fans), I think something is not quite right with the BT-50 – very un-Mazda.

    ..and I thought the current 3 looked bad enough.

    Please Mazda, don’t follow Subaru. At this rate I will be changing my name!

  • gearboxdawg

    Looks like the smiley face from Mazda 3 has made a come back on the bt50. Like the headlights, pointy chin is a bit too much. Nice rear lights. Very different from the boring and bland design I-shape rear lights most manufacturers used.

  • http://ozmazda.com ozmazda

    Looks great, fresh and bold just like the 3 and what has happened to that….it sells like hot cakes…

    Well done Mazda now all u have to do is market it well..

  • alongsan

    well,the beauty’s in the eye of the beholder. Look just great to me..will buy one in the future…good job Mazda..

  • Dodge Ram

    Now if they had the BT-50 interior installed in the new Ranger, THAT would be the winning combo IMHO. Nothing wrong with having the all macho outdoors Ranger man staying in touch with his inner woman now is there?

    I live 15 miles from the factory in Rayong… I wonder if I can get a ‘custom’ job done?

  • brent mcdonald

    I hope the limited slip diffs are better in the new model because the last models are useless on the farm.I have one replaced in my BT50 at 50,000km and is not working again at 62,000km.Cheap to at $5,000 for a centre only!!!